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The continuation of Moses' discourse is carried through this chapter. Here are described the victory Israel obtained over Og king of Bashan, with the division of his dominions, to the two tribes of Reuben and Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh: the order given to Joshua, as the intended successor of Moses, to carry on the conquest of Canaan: Moses' earnest request at that time to the LORD, that he might go over Jordan with the people, and the LORD'S refusal.
It is said in one of the Psalms, that the LORD led the people by a right way to a city of habitation. And so, no doubt, it was. But the way of GOD'S people is sometimes rough and full of difficulty. This path that Israel was now in, was to the southward, on the east of Jordan, Psalms 117:2 .
GOD'S promises are precious things, and especially when our faith is likely to be exercised. And, Reader, do observe, the LORD not only promised to deliver his people out of their enemies hand, but to deliver the enemy into his peoples hand. Such are the sweet assurances of grace. The LORD will not only rescue his servants from the hand of him that is stronger than them, but will finally bring Satan under their feet. Romans 16:20 .
This victory was considered so important (as no doubt it was) that we find the church celebrating it in a song of praise in one Psalm, and echoing to the same again in another. See Psalms 125:5 , and Psalms 126:6 .
The extraordinary stature and size of this man deserves the Reader's attention. Supposing a cubit to be about half a yard, then it will follow that this giant's bedstead was four yards and a half long, and two yards in breadth; and as if wood was not sufficiently strong to support him, the whole was made of iron. But, Reader, remark how alike strength and weakness are when opposed by the arm of GOD. Oh! that every, poor, timid believer, would keep in remembrance at all times his Almighty strength, which is ever engaged on the side of his people, and which is not unfrequently perfected in his people's weakness. Pray read that sweet scripture, Isaiah 41:14-16 , etc.
All these verses, and the events recorded in them, are but a recapitulation of the history which we had before in Numbers 32:0 to which I refer. I shall only, therefore, detain the Reader with observing, that the conduct of the Reubenites and Gadites, which called forth the reproof of Moses upon that occasion, savored of what is but too often discoverable now among the LORD'S heritage, I mean a love of indolence and rest, while Zion is in warfare. Moses, of all men, had an undoubted right to feel hurt; for we know when he might have been adopted as the son of Pharaoh's daughter, he chose rather to suffer affliction with the people of GOD. Oh! for more of this zeal and love to the cause of JESUS, in the present declining day of the church. See Hebrews 11:24-27 . What a delightful view is given us, in this charge of Moses to Joshua, of this man of GOD'S zeal and affection for the LORD'S cause. He appeals to Joshua's own knowledge of what had passed, to arm him for all that was to come. Reader! one of the sweetest offices of the HOLY GHOST is to act as the Remembrancer of JESUS. And when he graciously performs this office in reminding the believer how in times past the LORD hath sustained and comforted his people, doth he not take the most effectual method in giving confidence for all that is to come? John 14:26 .
As this is a very interesting part in the life of Moses, and as the subject held forth to us in it is highly instructive, I would beg the Reader to pause over it, and remark with me some of the sweet considerations which arise out of it. And first, consider the mercy prayed for. It was to see that good land, which was Canaan, the glory of all lands, as the Prophet called it. Ezekiel 20:6 . But it was not simply the good land of Canaan, considered in respect to its fruitfulness and excellency, but that goodly mountain and Lebanon, which Moses longed to behold. And, if I mistake, not, the reason was this: that goodly mountain was mount Moriah, that memorable spot where Abraham offered up Isaac, and which was to become yet infinitely more memorable in gospel-days, when JESUS, by the one offering of himself, should forever perfect them that are sanctified. That Moses, under the divine illumination of the HOLY GHOST, had such views of salvation, and was perfectly satisfied in all the great leading points of it, no one, I think, can doubt who compares his first vision of JESUS at the bush with what the apostle relates of his faith, under which all his ministry, he expressly tells us, was conducted. It was by faith that he esteemed the reproach of CHRIST greater riches than the treasures of Egypt. It was through faith he kept the passover. And what faith, but faith in the promised and expected Redeemer? Hence the mercy he prayed for was to behold that memorable spot, which should be sacred in after ages to the ministry of the LORD JESUS. Hebrews 11:26 , etc. But this is not all; for secondly, let us consider the arguments by which he pleaded for the mercy, and they were the LORD'S past blessings, which are no doubt the strongest of all possible reasons to hope in the completion and fulfillment of all that are to come. It is true, the LORD had before threatened that he should not go over. But as the LORD had not sworn to it, as he did in the case of the spies, there appeared to be room for prayer. See the cases of Hezekiah and Jonah, 2 Kings 20:1-6 . Jonah 3:4 .
Observe with what humility and approbation the man of God speaks of the LORD'S refusal. Oh! it is precious faith which enables the believer to lay passive in the hand of GOD, and know no will but his. Reader! do not overlook, however, the graciousness of the LORD'S answer to Moses. Although his wisdom did not see fit to comply with his request, he promised him a sight of the land, which might gratify him; and the taking him to himself, would amply awake up for the loss of Canaan. But, passing by the consideration of the man, what a charming subject ariseth out of it in reference to his office. Moses, as the law-deliverer to the church, could not be permitted to bring the people into Canaan; for the law makes nothing perfect; but the bringing in of a better hope did; and Joshua, as a type of the LORD JESUS, can only bring his church to glory. Hebrews 7:19 .
AMIDST the various improvements which the perusal of this Chapter opens to my view, under the teaching of GOD the HOLY GHOST, while I behold, as in the case of the kings of Sihon and Bashan, that giants are but as dwarfs when GOD fights the battles of his people; and that, while going forth in the strength of the LORD GOD, making mention of his righteousness, even his only, I shall be more than conqueror through him that loveth me: let me desire like Moses, with an eye of faith, to see that goodly land, and yet more especially JESUS, the LORD of it, who is the greater Joshua, gone before to take possession of it in the name of all his people. Oh! thou LORD of the country, and of the true tabernacle, which our GOD hath pitched and not man, grant, by the influences of thy HOLY SPIRIT, that my soul may be ever longing, until faith is realized in vision, for the view of thee, and of thy glory. May my soul contemplate now by faith all ordinances, means of grace, and every institution of service, as pointing to thy Person, and having their consummation in thee; and when thou shalt give the order for my dismission from this region of shadows, LORD grant that I may awake up after thy likeness, to be fully satisfied with thee.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 3". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26